What is Libertarianism Without the Non-Aggression Principle?

In a follow-up to my previous post on the Libertarian Republic taking a giant crap on the NAP, a simple retort to them could be this: So what should we replace NAP with as the guiding principle of libertarianism?

Notice the writer doesn’t provide one. Nor will anyone else. Yet libertarianism has to be based on something in order for it to mean anything. So what is the underlying principle?

The reason they won’t, is because anything they replace the NAP with will just lead us back to the exact same unanswerable question we find in all other political philosophies that led us to libertarianism in the first place.

As you might recall from my writing on state priests:

Libertarianism holds that a person’s rights are objective (‘A’ is ‘A’), whereas all other political ideologies hold that these rights are subjective (‘A’ is what I say ‘A’ is). 

Denying the NAP essentially robs libertarianism of this critical distinction which separates it from liberalism, conservatism, utilitarianism, communism, fascism, and whatever else you can think of to justify the state. Rights are objective, rather than subjective. It does not require a third party and thus call into question the validity of the third party’s conclusion. This is the fatal flaw of philosophies such as utilitarianism.

If you remove the NAP, you are back at square one trying to decide who gets to decide what your rights are and all the political violence that arises from this dispute.

One can certainly argue that there might be exceptions to the NAP or special circumstances in which adhering to it is not always possible. In these instances, limitations make the discerning of coercion, aggression, and innocence in a person impractical. But the whole point of an exception is allowing for a deviation from a rule while still acknowledging that it all other circumstances it is still the rule. A parent who makes an exception to their normal rule for their children to be in bed at 7:30 p.m. so they can watch a movie or enjoy fireworks is not abolishing the rule.

An example from the Bible would be the prostitute Rahab lying to the Jericho authorities about the Israelites spies she hid in her home. The Ten Commandments clearly forbids lying and deceit, but the Bible calls her deception an act of faith. In that situation, telling the truth and obeying God were mutually exclusive. This doesn’t mean, however, she was free to lie for the rest of her life about everything else.

Acknowledging the context in which an act occurs is necessary in order to decide whether or not it violates the rule or principle in question and an exception is necessary in order to preserve the rule.

This is why libertarians like myself are against state intervention and support property rights, but also feel compelled to oppose open borders due to the welfare state. The NAP is still the guiding principle but the circumstances requires us to acknowledge the existence of the the context, which makes it clear that open immigration is more than simply allowing people to move across borders unimpeded and leads to either outright or indirect coercion and aggression.

This is not the argument being made at Libertarian Republic or at other “libertarian” sites where the NAP is called into question. It’s a “guideline” that can be ignored when it doesn’t fit.

So what should be the final principle? What are the absolutes of libertarianism?

Call me presumptuous, but I don’t believe you’ll ever get a direct answer, because the whole point of undermining the NAP is to allow them to control or claim authority over things which normally the NAP would outright prohibit. It gives them an opening on issues that under the NAP would be entirely closed for discussion without blatantly violating libertarianism.

It’s the only way you can claim to be a libertarian and still advocate for a minimum income guarantee from the state. You have to dismantle the NAP first, typically by misusing the words and contributing to the destruction of our language.

We shouldn’t be surprised, then, when we see the same libertarians rejecting the NAP also return to their vomit. Above the NAP there was always a higher value, The Vision™, and the NAP is in the way because it provides individuals with an independence source from which they determine their rights – rights that make The Vision™ impossible to carry out unless they are denied.

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One Response to What is Libertarianism Without the Non-Aggression Principle?

  1. Pingback: The Libertarian Red Pill | The Anarchist Notebook

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